STATE OF BUSINESS: Through the Barrier

Employment, the most worrisome statistic of the U.S. economy, is showing marked improvement. In May, 1,049,000 found jobs, a better-than-seasonal rise that brought total employment to 67,208,000, reported the Labor Department this week. Unemployment dropped seasonally by 201,000—to 3,459,000—pushing the number of unemployed in the U.S. work force below the 5% barrier (to 4.9%) for the first time in a year. Even more encouraging, the chronic sore spot of unemployment—those jobless for 15 weeks or more—fell 300,000 to about 900,000 in May; nearly half of those now seeking work have been out of jobs less than five weeks. Matched...

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